Education: Light-Fingered Bibliophiles

Library thefts soar, and security systems multiply

The plot sounds like an ultra-British detective story. A collection of rare books initially valued at about $2 million, including a 1638 edition of Galileo's Discorsi, disappear from London's University College Library. A "Dr. French" approaches Quaritch's, a rare book dealer in London, with about 20 books that he wants to trade for a medieval manuscript. Quaritch's notices tracings of University College Library stamps and alerts the library. About the same time, librarians checking on the volumes discover that padlocks on the appropriate cabinets have been changed. All told, about 267 books are missing. Scotland...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!